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Dems avoid shutout in Royce race as Cisneros advances

Dems avoid shutout in Royce race as Cisneros advances
© Greg Nash
California Democrat Gil Cisneros on Wednesday advanced in his bid to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceCalifornia was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success Top donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: report Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE, in the process helping his party avoid a potential shutout in a key race in the state's unpredictable “jungle" primary.
 
The party was initially concerned that a failure to coalesce around a single candidate would cost Democrats a spot in the general election. California’s primaries advance the top two candidates regardless of party, so two Republicans could have potentially made the ballot and shut out the Democrats from competing in November. 
 
Those stakes were magnified by the fact that California’s 39th Congressional District represents one of the Democratic Party’s best chances at flipping a GOP-held seat. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden prepares to confront Putin Ending the same-sex marriage wars Trump asks Biden to give Putin his 'warmest regards' MORE won the district in 2016 by 8 points. 
 
But Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief now that Cisneros has secured a spot in the general election. He’ll face off against Republican Young Kim, the leading vote-getter in the race.
 
Kim had been seen as the front-runner on the GOP side thanks in no small part to a quick endorsement from Royce the day after he announced his resignation. She's put together the strongest organization on the GOP side, raising more money than any other Republican. 
 
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With Kim seen as the favorite for the first slot, the race was effectively a battle for second place in a broad field of candidates on both sides, including former Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R), Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R), Cisneros and Andy Thorburn (D). 
 
Cisneros, a veteran and lottery winner, had been locked in a brutal battle with Thorburn for Democratic votes. The mudslinging got so bad that the state party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) brokered a cease-fire agreement between the two candidates out of fear that the animosity could cost the party a spot in the general election. 
 
The DCCC went further to prevent a potential shutout, spending $1.5 million against Huff and Nelson, as well as hundreds of thousands to boost Cisneros. 
 
Ultimately, that money appeared to be well spent. Neither Huff nor Nelson made a run at the top two slots as the votes trickled in on Tuesday night. And now the party has its candidate in Cisneros.
 
— Updated at 1:47 p.m.